Just beneath a scrim of same old, same old there’s a lot going on. I am de-cluttering my physical space along with my psyche. Being me there is no master plan and everything moves in fits and starts and it’s all to a purpose but haphazard in its execution. How I go about things isn’t on my agenda though. Nothing is more self-defeating than giving myself grief about my methods. Instead of totting up all the things I didn’t do I’ve decided to be pleased with what I DID do. A radical departure but this method allows me to get off the hell cycle of being down on myself and feeling like crap for not being THE BEST HOUSECLEANER/EMPLOYEE/WIFE/MOTHER/NEIGHBOR/FRIEND/CITIZEN IN THE WHOLE UNIVERSE!!! all the damn time. I am beyond tired of feeling bad about who I am and what I do and how I do it.
I’ll tell you something else – Life isn’t like summer camp. There are no medals and ribbons awarded for things like ‘Best Bird House Maker’ or ‘Most Improved Swimmer’; in real life the Prize Patrol doesn’t roll up with a cartoon check made out to: ‘Most Reliable Mortgage Payer’ or ‘My Children Have NEVER Had A Chicken Nugget’. In the end there’s only you. Or me. And I am in a very transitory state between chapters just now. Sebastian and I are figuring out how to navigate the ever-moving boundary between regurgitating food for him and kicking him out of the nest. And I’m carefully steering through the choppy water of my husband rushing in to fill the vacancies left by my son. Putting my own self in order feels like the most logical step. I cannot be fair or honest with my guys unless I understand what I want life to look like. All those years wasted…tsk…martyrdom will mess you up!
So anyway, while I’m sorting my mental and actual laundry doing memes feels natural. I’m already asking myself questions, why not some just for fun? A nice change from – “When should Sebastian be responsible for his own car insurance? And is it fair to cut him loose from our policy when on his own the cost will likely triple?” and “Oh shit, what if he wants to bring a girl home overnight?” GAHHH! Yeah, waxing rhapsodic about my favorite cut and style of jeans* or a happy memory from 5th grade** feels like a snuggy comforting squishy hug to my brain.
(*- Mid-rise, boot cut, dark wash, stretch 95% cotton denim with deep front pockets and back pockets large enough to securely carry a Galaxy 8 or better.)
(**- My school picture. Man, 5th grade was stormy. The summer after 5th grade my mother twitched us across town into a less unsavory address so as not to frighten off classy candidates for 3rd husband. I was delighted to be a block away from my best friends instead of a lengthy and lumpy bike ride from Cockroach Heights down to Single Mom Haven. We had a glorious summer! That was the summer of roller skating and starting fires and playing ‘Spy’. We stole, cooked, and ate corn on the cob. The last summer of my childhood was the best and when school pictures were taken not long into September I still wore a tan and a brigand’s smile. But on the cusp of puberty I was also pleased I had really good hair and a cool outfit on. Despite my scoop-neck top’s garish burnt orange and stripes color scheme, I look good. Strong. Unafraid. It might have only lasted as long as a shutter click but in that moment I was the bad ass I would-a, could-a, should-a been.)
Someday I will get some of the family pics off my sister and I can not only share with you guys but also reassure myself I am not a figment of my own imagination. Which seems possible. But not probable. Too much upsy-downsy tied together with long stretches of boring. I’d like to believe if I were making up my life I’d have a hella lot more fun than this one’s been.
A Meme by Dreamy
Favorite novel and author? (Gently lifts Stephen King and sets him to one side.) A novel I turn to again and again is:
Who I am at each re-read changes so the story changes. Also this book proved to me that poor grammar doesn’t matter if the story is meaty enough. This book breaks every single English rhetoric rule, but instead of being jerky and incomprehensible the story has meter. It rollicks along like a Johnny Cash song.
Favorite perfume/scent? Entirely separate questions. There are plenty of things I enjoy the scent of that I wouldn’t wear on my body. For instance – gasoline. When I was pregnant I couldn’t get enough of that smell and even when I’m not manufacturing a new human being I still like the smell of gasoline. But I’m not dabbing super unleaded behind my ears, you know? Given my druthers and an unlimited budget I’ve worn three scents layered on top of each other. ‘Opium’ by YSL, ‘Cinnabar’ by Estee Lauder, and ‘Musk’ by Alyssa Ashley. My favorite compliment about this combo came from a server at Outback. She’d leaned in to get my order, stood, and then leaned back in taking a theatrically deep sniff. “Wow! You smell great!” sniff #3 “Like a Catholic church in New Delhi!”
Coffee or tea? Another two-part question. Coffee is easy. Even if you take it as I do (no sugar, with real milk- not creamer or half & half). Coffee is quick and it’s immediately understood. Ordering tea while I’m out is dumb. Takes too long, the steep is always too weak, meh. Tea at home is a pleasure. Especially since Mick makes it for me 90% of the time.
Are you a cat or dog person? I’ve had far more cats, but this is because cats are easier pets to cohabitate with. Having a dog is like living with a toddler. A toddler that after about 12 years turns into your combative slightly senile grandma with the bad hips and a heart condition. Overnight. Cats are teenagers until the very end. Diva teenagers. Cat or dog, you picks your poison.
Which mythical creature would you transform into if you could? A woke white man? An honest politician? Ooo, I know! A woman who is ‘just right’ for everybody! Not too busy or too lazy or fat or old or bitchy or ‘crazy’ or promiscuous or wearing the wrong clothes, hairstyle, amount of make-up or….bwahahaha! Nope, imposs. I’ll be a dragon, thanks. The bookish kind.
Favorite time period? I really have to stop overthinking these. I am very fond of antibiotics. There has been no safer time to be ill or injured than right now. Plus, like any place in history if you’re not insanely wealthy your life is mostly a drag of subsistence wage/work and trying to keep your kids alive. Meh. Style-wise I appreciate the latter days of the Belle Epoque. I’ve always been a sucker for a great hat.
Name 3 films that have changed your life and have shaped you into the person you are today. ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’. Quotable. Funny. Anti-heroes who die at the end. (So 1970!) My main takeaway is the relationships. Among the guys and the gang and even poor Woodcock, of course. But what truly fetched me was that Etta Place had two husbands. Or maybe one husband divided into two men. An arrangement that makes a lot of sense to me. But then I like being doted on.
‘Private Benjamin’. On the flip-side of being doted on there is the fierce awakening of Judy Benjamin. Two friends had treated me to a movie for my birthday and when Judy walks out on the wedding and Henri…wow. She looks down at her bare ring finger, smiles, and marches away up the drive into a future of her own making we three jumped to our feet applauding and cheering. There was a beat and a lot of people around us joined in. It was a moment.
For the last one I’ll say ‘The Odd Couple’ for convenience, but it’s really Neil Simon and his pitch-perfect dialog in so, so many movies. Too. Goddamn. Funny. That thing I do when I’m talking about true things but it comes out all hilarious? I’m subconsciously channeling Neil Simon. Neil Simon, of course, channeled the Borscht Belt comedians who were actually the last remnants of vaudeville. It’s a comedic cant which is instantly familiar.
Diamonds or pearls? Oh gosh, I own about the same number of each. I wear diamonds every day because of my wedding set and almost never wear the Mikimodo my ex-MIL gave me for my 30th birthday. Neither Barbara Bush nor Donna Reed, there was a time when I tried to make a life where pearls as day-wear was a thing. Didn’t last long. I’m allergic to cashmere. I know, right? You try to be swanky in a poly-cotton blend. It ain’t happening.
What’s your biggest dream? I can say my most persistent Walter Mitty daydream is playing the drums. Like I’m out at a bar with a live band and during a break I ease up onto the bandstand. Grabbing some sticks I play a crazy hard set piece and everyone goes nuts. I used to want this because it seemed wicked cool, but I’m aging in real time and in my daydreams and now it mostly makes me laugh to think about. These days such a performance would be far more Susan Boyle than Sheila E. Heh. Cue: gobsmacked Simon Cowell- “Whoo! You go, squishy odd woman with bad eyebrows! You go!”
Dream destination? Holy cats, this comes up on nearly every meme. To change it up, instead of an actual physical place, here’s where my life is going, ‘k? First comes the hosanna for menopause. Living in such peaceful seas is soothing. Getting places requires so much less effort! It used to be some misty half-mythical far off land, but now getting to Happy is easy! Happy is on my daily commute. So are Peaceful, Accomplished, Safe, and Loved.
Favorite fictional character? Gracious! What kind of question is this? Memes are fun but the language tends to encourage absolutes. Don’t we get enough of this in our politics? I’d rather be asked: “Name a fictional character whose company you’ve enjoyed.” Montgomery McNeil. I’ve watched ‘Fame’ at least 20 times and he’s the only character who hasn’t irked me at some point. *NY Liberal Elitist Alert: I immediately assumed this question meant a book character and had to stamp out several ego flare-ups shouting, “Little Dorrit!” “Clytemnestra!” “Offred!” before allowing myself to pick a movie character yet cannot resist the humble-brag that I know those names. *snort*
Share a quote or passage that means something to you. Here’s one I like: ‘Nobody Ever Sees You Eat Tuna Fish’. It’s the title of a memoir by David Brenner and the eponymous essay within talks about how David and his friends would hit the boards in Atlantic City every couple of months and how David always seemed flush with cash and confidence. A friend calls him on this and David explains that between times he lives lean. He scrimps and saves and ‘eats tuna fish’ instead of hitting the diner every other night and how he avoids the bars. By carefully husbanding his resources David could have a worry-free spree in A.C. when the time was right. This was a similar gospel to my mother’s, but hers was ALL about snaring a husband and Brenner just wanted a good time. Whatever. Whoever. I agree with the basic tenet of saving to party. The tricky bit is figuring out where the line is between having such a long view that ‘Now’ never comes and deciding that ‘Taco Tuesday’ qualifies as a legit reason to rack up your cards and drink halfway to alcohol poisoning.
What’s your favorite plant/flower? My favorite plants are trees. Deciduous trees. Conifers are selfish. Nasty, pointy, inedible, sticky, stinky things with their labor-intensive cones. Shallow-rooted jerks. If the forest was an 80’s movie the conifers would be played by Billy Zabka. As far as flowers go I like highly scented flowers and those that bloom in heaps and drifts. Climbing roses satisfies both requirements.
Do you prefer the forest or the ocean? Why? Phoo, another clumsy one. Asking that is like asking, “Carbs or proteins?” Not really an either or proposition. I live in the trees. Not a forest, too much through-traffic, nor anything near as well-kept as a park either. Just trees. Lots of them. It’s been three years since I’ve seen the ocean. Me? The kid who spent her winters hunting for sand in her navel and dreaming of being back at the shore? How is this possible? A hideously destructive super-storm. MTV and their &%^$#@!! ‘reality’ show. Gentrification. And the final nail in OG Seaside Heights was the fire that leveled Funtown Pier. John Irving fans will understand when I say the torching of Funtown was a smart bear’s kind of fire. Besides himself with his translucent dermis and me with that fetching eastern European potato farmer pallor and a dozen squamous carcinomas between us going to the BEACH is all kinds of stupid. Even if Mick had enough melanin to black out the sun Seaside doesn’t have the history for him as it does for me. On our few trips there it never quite jelled as an ‘our’ place. Weird. Mick even presented me with my actual engagement ring at midnight on the beach with a moon path ending at our feet. And we exchanged wedding bands on the boardwalk on what would have been our wedding day if we hadn’t had a JP job the previous November. Not Mick’s fault that Seaside has stayed aloof. Instead of Dali’s dripping clocks, my Persistence of Memory is bounded to the east by curling surf stretching away into the horizon, to the north by an amusement pier, to the south by shadowy dunes and night-fishermen with Coleman lanterns and coolers of domestic beer in cans, and to the West of a blocks’ deep archipelago battened to the mainland with bridges footed with Rat Pack-esque restaurants featuring bushel-sized shrimp cocktails and steaks served on sizzling platters. Places with flocked wallpaper and veined mirror tiles.
What do you value most in people? Jinkies, this is a rather heavy question to finish on. The standard answer is a lot of crap about honesty. Not me! I do NOT want all my feedback to be ‘honest’. Nuh-uh. You all ‘truth tellers’ can go screw. When I’m wallowing and sad I know what the right path is, guh, I just don’t want to do it. Right then I need to be patted. Agreed with. Encouraged. We’ve been friends for a long time and you know I always pull out of a tailspin and do the right thing. Meaning the be kind to others thing. The least toxic impact on the future thing. ‘The Best I Can Do With What I’ve Got’ thing. What I value most in others is padding. Handle me with care. Good friends, true friends look inside and find a kind way to deliver bad news. A skill I am working on all the time. I’m blabby. Not from malice. My conversational boundaries are broad and not always conventional. Me: “Blah..dee..blibberty…blah.” “LA!!!!” “What?” “You can’t SAY that!” “Oh, sorry. Why not?” I try very hard to observe boundaries, don’t always succeed, but the attempt is sincere. Once upon a time I was one of those ruthless truth tellers. All bald unvarnished truth. So proud of my honesty!
Took some time but living with Aspies sped the process along. I’ve long thought the Asperger crowd should hook up with anesthesiologists and double their efficiency. No one like an Aspie to zero in on your ouchiest place and hammer on that fucker until you’re ready to die. I’ve learned the value of providing a soft landing thanks to my brutal children and their father. I’m horrified I probably hurt people with my smug ‘honesty’. Tell you what, I’ve never heard anyone being ‘brutally honest’ like this, “OMG! Krista! The tort you wrote exonerating SplashyTown from liability damages caused by the Shady Shoddy Sidewalk Company’s poor materials is amazing!” No, it’s always, “Krista! No wonder Jay left you for Hailey the Ho, your forehead’s a zit farm and your boobs are lopsided.” Why do that? Krista knows all about her zits and her boobs. And, bitch, Jay left because Hailey is all sparkly and new and doesn’t care that he’s defaulting on his student loans…yet. (Just wait until that shared mailing address starts dragging her credit.)
I have a busy day tomorrow so if I don’t get back have yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
Love you always, ~LA